Fox News’ Chris Wallace confronts top Trump aide over comments he made in a closed-door meeting

Chris Wallace
Chris Wallace on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ Screenshot/Fox News

“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace confronted Donald Trump’s new campaign strategist, Paul Manafort, over his comments in a closed-door meeting portraying Trump as an “evolving candidate” who’s been “playing a part” throughout his campaign for president.

Wallace noted that Manafort’s comments implied that voters haven’t been seeing the real Trump as he’s been campaigning on an anti-establishment message, catapulting ahead of career politicians and earning frontrunner status for the Republican presidential nomination.

In a closed-door meeting with members of the Republican National Committee, Manafort reportedly said: “The part he’s been playing is evolving into the part of that you’ve been expecting but he wasn’t ready for it because he had the first phase. You’ll start to see more depth to the person, the real person. You’ll see him in a different way.”

“Trump has been campaigning for 10 months now, and we haven’t seen the real man?” Wallace asked him.

Manafort replied that the clip was “related to was a question that was asked talking about the settings that he was going to be in.”

He continued:

On the campaign setting, you’re seeing the real Donald Trump in campaign mode talking to — talking to people who believe in his candidacy.  

I was dealing with members of the Republican National Committee who have a different role from a organizational standpoint and they wanted to know about things like is he going to be giving speeches on policies, is he going to be involved in settings that are not rally-oriented, and that was the context I was talking about. We were evolving the campaign, not the candidate, and the settings were going to start changing.

Wallace called out Manafort for what he saw as “spin.”

“Forgive me, it does seem a little bit like spin because — I mean, the words, the part that he has been playing, ‘You will start to see more depth of the person, the real person,'” Wallace said. “You’re not talking about rallies versus some other setting.”

Manafort insisted that he was “talking about rallies versus setting,” to which Wallace replied, “That’s not what you said.”

Manafort responded:

Well, in the context of that room, that’s what I said and that’s what was understood. When it was taken out of context, and the question that was asked to me wasn’t prefaced with my answer, you get a distorted thing. Donald Trump said it yesterday on the campaign trail in Waterbury, in Bridgeport, he addressed the issue completely.  

Look, I’m playing to — when I’m out here I want to talk to you and be — to show you who I am in this environment. When I’m going to give a policy speech, I’m going to be giving a policy speech.  

He said it straight up.

The two went back and forth a bit more, and Manafort emphasised that he “never said Trump was going to change any of his positions.”

Trump has spent recent weeks professionalizing his campaign, hiring more experienced staffers and curtailing his media exposure in an effort to control his message more carefully. He’s also hiring a speechwriter and plans to deliver policy addresses with teleprompters rather than speaking off-the-cuff like he does at many of his events and speeches.

“The campaign is evolving and transitioning, and so am I,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal last week. “I’ll be more effective and more disciplined. … I’m not going to blow it.”

Here’s the full interview:

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